September Song

Oh, it’s a long long while from May to December

But the days grow short when you reach September,

When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame

One hasn’t got time for the waiting game.

September again, and on the 23rd the 66th session of the United Nations opens in New York. That’s sixty-six years since the founding of the UN when the first nations joined together by signing the Charter, agreeing to pursue peaceful means to resolve their disputes and to abide by the conventions of the multi-lateral Treaty that they had signed.

Over 190 countries now have Membership of this vast talking shop, and at one time, or another, most leaders stand up and give some kind of speech to the UN’s General Assembly. Some are noteworthy, many are not but in the context of my favourite subject, some speeches are worth listening to.

Once again, I understand that Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is due to give just such a speech to the General Assembly at the beginning of this new session. As it coincides with Argentina holding the Chair of the G77 + China group of countries, there may be more bums on seats than could otherwise be guaranteed.

Ms Kirchner gave a similar speech back in 2008, saving the penultimate paragraph to say, ” Finally, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to mention an issue that relates not only to my country, …. but that relates to this House and also the need to address the twenty-first century without colonial enclaves. I mean the question of our Malvinas Islands, where despite the resolutions of this honourable body, where despite all instances that have been taken in this area, the United Kingdom strictly refuses to deal with the Argentina Republic or discuss the Falkland Islands issue …. I would ask once again, as did the various Presidents who have preceded me, …. to urge once again the United Kingdom to comply with the norms of international law.” 

It would be quite remarkable if, in an election year, Argentina’s President did not raise the issue in her speech this year.

2008 of course, was also the year that Argentina’s cronies on the Special Committee for Decolonization (C24) attempted to slip a Resolution past the Fourth Committee that would have qualified the universal right to self-determination by limiting that right to cases where there was no sovereignty dispute. In other words, the Falkland Islanders, and the Gibraltarians would have been subject to a condition that rendered them lesser beings than any other peoples in this world.

Fortunately the British Permanent Representative to the UN spotted the trick and had it thrown out by the Fourth Committee.

Which brings me nicely to that Committee. Once again, come October, the issue of the last remaining ‘non self governing’ territories will come up for debate. The majority will get little more than a brief mention before being lumped together in a nondescript Resolution and forgotten for another twelve months. Gibraltar and the Western Sahara will get a Resolution each although absolutely nothing will change in either case. The Falkland Islands will just get half a day, maybe even a full one if the Committee needs to fill out the time. From previous experience that will be it …. for another year.

Argentina managed to get six General Assembly Resolutions out of the UN between 1982 and 1988 but it seems that a majority of the UN has come to the conclusion that it is not worth the doing any more. The six were repetitive, and achieved nothing. General Assembly Resolutions are, in any case, only recommendations and not international law as Ms Kirchner would suggest.

It is a pity that the General Assembly lacks the courage to review the decolonisation list and remove those who don’t actually want to be anything other than they already are.

For the Falkland Islands, the words of the song are not quite correct, but it is a long, long time from June when the C24 sit, to October when the Fourth Committee consider its Resolutions, and with little hope of change, there’s still a waiting game.

I’m looking forward to Cristina’s speech.

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